Help, I Am Stranded in a Remote Country With a Nigerian Prince Who Will Give You Millions

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen

Ever wonder where union dues go?  Maybe to some hackers in a foreign land.  We have repeatedly heard horror stories of email scams, hacks and the general badness out there on the internet.  Well, a chapter of the Communication Workers union in Connecticut got hacked for $438,000 and the social security numbers of over 1,000 members.

Here’s what happened.  A payroll company handled the CWA’s finances and issued checks for the union.  The union’s secretary-treasurer had her Gmail accounts linked to the union’s computer system.  WARNING – this is a bad idea.

Using the information from her Gmail account, hackers were able to find the union’s banking information.  The bad guys called the payroll company pretending to be the secretary-treasurer and got it to transfer a number of payments between $30,000 and $50,000 to accounts around the United States, and then overseas to countries in the Middle East.

The union president learned what had happened when the bank called and told him that the accounts were empty. By that point, $438,000 in dues from CWA members had disappeared.

Eternal vigilance is required to reduce the risk of hacks, phishing and the like both at home and in the workplace.   Among the things users can do to fight back against hackers are: keep firewalls turned on, install or update anti-virus and anti-spyware technology, keep operating systems up to date and turn off computers when they are not being used.

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